Image by Bertrand Duperrin via Flickr
Many of our lives follow routines. We sometimes feel that we are doing the same things over and over again. Get up, go to work. Take the kids to school. Run the errands. Do the housework. Cook some meals. There are special things thrown in, appointments or activities that we look forward to, but often our days fall in patterns that may begin to feel monotonous. And sometimes we begin to feel some discontent, some disappointment. Is this my life? If this what it will always be?
But the reality is that every day of our lives will be utterly unique. This moment that you are living right now and the opportunities inherent in it will never come again in just the same way. The same is true for the next moment and the next. And each of them carries the possibility of the Divine bursting in at any moment. I believe this to be absolutely true and it makes me want to do all I can to stay awake and to be ready for that possibility.
So today, on a day that was both exactly like and utterly unlike all of the days that had proceeded it, I was following my usual routines, doing my usual “stuff” around the house, when I got a phone call from a faith-based charitable organization that I work with requesting that I drop off an emergency food package to a “neighbor” (we call them neighbors in keeping with Jesus’ exhortation to love our neighbor) who was in a place of need. My schedule was open so I was able to say yes.
Later, in the car, I was thinking about the compassion and generosity of the people who had provided this 6 or 7 large bags of food that I was privileged to transport, when a young man waiting at a bus stop caught my eye. I could tell by his facial features that he had Downs’ Syndrome and he was dressed in the uniform of the carry out persons that work at our local grocery stores so I knew that he must be on his way to work. He was waiting alone and I was impressed by his independence and grateful for the opportunities that are afforded people with disabilities. My mind registered these observations and thoughts, but there were two things that were much more remarkable about this young man. The first was that he was dancing! He had ear buds stuck in his ears and was moving to some music that I could nothear, but have wished many times since to have been able to listen along with him. The other thing was his face. His face was turned upwards to the sky and it contained such a look of pure joy as I have rarely seen on any human face, even on that of a young child. I wish that I could paint a better picture of this, maybe you can imagine it along with me.
Immediately, my spirit and my body reacted. Sobs and laughter spilled from my chest and my throatall at the same time and all in a split second I am a person who gets “choked up” very easily. So easily that marching bands make me cry. Yes, marching bands! But, I have never had an experience like this one. This young man was gushing joy like an erupting volcano and I just happened to be in the right place at the right time to be in the path of that stunning blessing. His joy welled up in my spirit and flowed back out into the world in the form of my laughter and my tears. I wrote in another blog that I often have tears when I am in the presence of Truth and Beauty. These are simply two words for God. As I laughed and I cried I was aware that I had just seen the face of God. (I am very grateful that I was in the car by myself. I think that I would have frightened any passengers that I might have had.)
I am sure that you have all heard this little poem:
“Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees,
takes off his shoes.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
I hope that you will all be aware of the opportunities to take off your shoes today. You won’t regret it.